This is the second of a five book series written by Anne Perry. I read the first one a little while ago: No Graves as Yet. That one took place right before WWI started, this one happens about six months after, during the time it was becoming obvious that the war was going to last for a while.
Though on the surface a mystery novel, it really is dealing with a lot of important ideas; what is the role of faith in war, how do you survive on the front line, or in the trenches when it was so horrible ( in the genuine sense of causing horror), and where should your loyalties lie. Is peace at all costs really worth the "all costs"?
The first book introduces a mysterious character, The Peacemaker, as someone very powerful, but who wants to avoid war so badly that he would generate a world divided like a pie between England and Germany. To think that that would end war is pretty silly, since the beaten countries would still fight and the two empires would then go at each other, but those are this man's aims.
In this book, having been foiled at his attempt to make a treaty between the King of England and Germany, he is attempting to make England lose the war by destroying morale at home so no more soldiers will come and they will have to pull out.
I can't imagine the type of research she had to do in order to write such a book. This is one of the reasons I say I could never be a good author, I couldn't involve myself in such awful things in order to write about them accurately. I am too soft hearted, I can barely read such things, even though they move me deeply, I can't imagine writing them.
The main character is an Anglican priest and his struggles with faith and God in a battlefield are real, yet not so nihilistic as most. Many people did take refuge in faith in war, and not very many books reflect that.
Shoulder the Sky. Anne Perry. Ballantine. 2004